Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Kitchen Hacks

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    The rule with tomatoes is to pretty much eat them when they are ripe. They seem to ripen quicker when warmer, so you can stretch a batch out by keeping them at different temperatures. But from experience, you're right about chilling them - that's the end of any further development.

    I stretched them out this year mostly by timing when to take them - they ripen way faster when picked.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Here’s a tip I learned at an evening middle-eastern cooking class at a local high school..

    If you want to make your own hummus….

    Traditional recipes call for chic peas, which need to be soaked for at least six hours, if not days, and to do it properly, you need to change the water a few times. (it gets manky from stuff soaking out of the peas).

    Use (dried) yellow split peas instead. You can soak them for only half an hour, and they make a finer, less grainy paste in the blender, and taste just the same.

    Unfortunately, it only works for hummus… they don’t work for making your own felafel, which does require chic peas.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 893 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to BenWilson,

    Must get a better BBQ, but the old dunger I inherited when my grandmother had her stroke has never missed a beat in 10 years. No hood, though

    My hack for that one is an old zip electric frypan lid. If something on the BBQ needs steaming or all round heat, then just cover it with the lid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 619 posts Report Reply

  • Nora Leggs, in reply to FletcherB,

    Unfortunately, it only works for hummus… they don’t work for making your own felafel, which does require chic peas.

    For felafel though, soaked but uncooked chick peas are the go - found this from a fab cook friend who found it from someone in the know, and confirmed in other reputable recipes.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2011 • 2700 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to FletcherB,

    making your own felafel, which does require chic peas.

    Fighting words. That's Israeli (and I think Lebanese) style. Egyptians and others use broad beans.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    On the Felafel front I have been using tinned chickpeas and Channa flour, the course grind, for years with great success. You can add all sorts of things to them too, try wrapping chunks of feta in the dough before deep frying. You can make a passable hummus too just by whipping up a paste of channa flour and water the night before and let it soak over night, once again you can add herbs and spices to your taste.
    While you are soaking your hummus mix you could soak some crushed buckwheat and then chop tomatoes finely with parsley and coriander and make your own Tabbouleh. Serve up with yoghurt and mint or cucumber if you prefer wit warm pita bread..
    I haven't made pita for a long time since you can get it from the nearest garage these days.
    Eat like a Sheik.
    Hummus doul Alla anat… ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I got this tip from a Lebanese friend, an Egyptian freind said to me... "أن ليس الفلافل، مصنوعة الفلافل مع الفول. الأبله" so I guess Mr Judd is also right. :-D

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Righto. Someone had to win the prizes and there were so many great hacks that I just went with the two things that immediately made me go “oh! Imma try that!”

    Jessica Rose with freezing green grapes and using them as tasty little globes to keep your white wine cool.

    And Richard Ram with green seasoning.

    They both win the Selaks Roast Day goodie bags.

    Thanks all, and don’t feel you have to stop now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Thrash Cardiom,

    Alton Brown is another cook who write about the science of food and what's happening in the kitchen as you cook.

    What I like about him is that he takes the science and applies it to the dogma of recipes often rewriting the recipe as a result. He's also a gadget nut but loves to find simple solutions rather than expensive ones.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    And stealing one of Alton Browns hacks.

    Need oven mits? Don't buy the stupid ones from the kitchen shop - go to your hardware store and buy a pair of welding gloves. The big ones that go halfway up the arm are great for working with a blazing hot BBQ!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Hebe,

    Kale is oddly sweet when it is juiced with other veges. It’s a superfood too.

    It's slightly less a superfood when you drizzle the leaves with oil and bake in the oven on one of those circulon baking trays until crisp. Sprinkled with seasoning (salt) it is yummy but by then you are mostly eating salt and oil on a crunchy surface mmmmmm

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    why people love heavy fry pans

    Thermal mass.

    You can get a thin light pan just as hot but the moment you take it off the heat it loses it's temperature fast. That may be an advantage in certain situations but for a lot of cooking you don't want fast temperature changes until you decide.

    Cast iron is just the cheapest way to get that mass, any chinese supermarket will have a full range of sizes and there is very little value in paying more for cast iron. So for a student with no money a $5 pan lasted me 15 years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Gareth,

    good digital thermometer

    +1

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I am coveting a heavy copper roasting pan, but at a cool $619 on Amazon, it’s not going to be acquired any time soon.

    Ditto

    And a damascus folded steel cooks knife

    drool

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    So much good korero on here. Love it.
    That green seasoning is a great choice: I had missed it earlier so thanks for highlighting.

    It's akin to gremolata : finely chopped parsley, lemon rind and garlic, sprinkled on most anything.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I want, (need?) a copper mixing bowl.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Stephen Judd,

    Can’t help but think that something like this might be a cheap and cheerful alternative to an expensive enamel dutch oven.

    That IS a dutch oven!

    The enamel ones and anything referred to as ... shudder ... French ... are NOT Dutch ovens.

    The name comes from the US where the cast iron lidded pot that could be swung over a fire or hearth and then set beside the fire to maintain it's heat was used for every cooking need by ... DUTCH immigrants. The Americans saw this cool and very effective cooking device used by the Dutch and called it a Dutch oven.

    Of course such a heavy pot was in common use throughout Europe, possibly even by the ... spit ... French!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Hebe,

    I want, (need?) a copper mixing bowl.

    We bought a small copper pot, it is very pretty and makes me happy when I see it in the pot drawer

    It probably has another function, perhaps even for cooking things, but for now it serves an important purpose.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I amke awesome schnitzel. Part of the secret is good meat. Part of the secret is beating it with your fist to tenderise the meat, you can use a hammer if you like but somehow using your fist is a good stress relief after a hard day (oh and a layer of clingfilm over the meat as you beat it stop you spraying meat juices all over the place). Part of the secret is cooking the crumbed meat in vast quantities of good NZ butter!

    But the hack is to grate parmesan into the breadcrumbs before each piece is coated (usual flour then egg then crumb process). Some folks add things like parsley or other herbs to the crumbs but I can't go past parmesan. And while I will use Panko crumbs for fish I find plain supermarket crumbs are just fine for schnitzel.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Microplane graters make grating anything so much easier. We have a coarse one and a fine one. And I have a couple that I use for woodwork.

    The only problem is that they grate knuckles as well as they grate anything else - ouchy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That may be an advantage in certain situations but for a lot of cooking you don’t want fast temperature changes until you decide.

    I tend to get around that by not taking things off the element. I can see that the temperature curves are smoother, but OTOH, that does mean they could be suboptimal longer, if they get out of whack. Also the feedback time on adjustments is massive, so you have to tend the thing constantly. It's like taking a shower through a copper pipe 200m long. Sure, the water will be a stable temperature eventually. As in way too cold for a long time, and then way too hot, and you have to fiddle backwards and forwards to get it right. If the food is burning on a heavy pan, you're going to burn it much longer than on a thin pan.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Why do I bother?

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Chips with good PR; perfect.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Actually two: for kitchen lightshades. But it's not going to happen unless I form them myself. So I'll probably make do with old op shop colanders drilled out.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    In today's TheScientistDaily is the following article about food pairings. It really is a must read for this thread
    http://www.the-scientist.com//?articles.view/articleNo/35106/title/Beer-Tastes-Intoxicating/

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

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